Faux Real

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

02/06/2010 - 12/06/2010

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

02/05/2011 - 07/05/2011

NZ International Comedy Festival 2011

Production Details

What if you were trapped inside your own head…with John Farnham?  

Faux Real follows Dave, one ordinary man held captive in his own imaginary world. As Dave comes to terms with his new surroundings, he magically freefalls through memories of the people, places, music, lyrics and conversations he’s left behind in the real world. But there are darker memories too. Memories that unlock the secret behind his old life. Can Dave ‘take the pressure down’ and escape them?

Gareth Williams (Apollo 13: Mission Control, Christ Almighty) plays Dave in this one-man song, dance and physical theatre spectacular. Joining forces with Christ Almighty writer Dan Musgrove, the award-winning duo bring us an ‘hour of epic comic proportions’.

Faux Real features an elaborate soundscape and visual display from Rob Larsen (Apollo 13) with especially composed music by Byron Coll and Dave Ward (The Dentist’s Chair, The Guru of Chai). This and a string of John Farnham hits take us on a surreal journey through Dave’s imagination. 

From an invisible woman to a living lamp, Dave juggles fire, wind, water, earth, and now heart, in this sensational, sensory circus… of the century. 

Performing at The Basement from 2 – 12 June, Faux Real is a bold new New Zealand comedy that promises to deliver on every level including the basement.

2010 Season:
2-12 June, The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, City.  


will appear in the New Zealand International Comedy Festival 2011
May 2 – 7, 7pm
at the Herald Theatre, in association with STAMP at The Edge.

 Cast and Crew: 
Gareth Williams – Metro Magazine Best Newcomer 09 
Nominee Best Newcomer Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 08 
Dan Musgrove – Nominee Best Comedy NZ Intl Comedy Festival 09 
Dave Ward – Nominee Best Music Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 08 


Almost saved by the finale

Review by Karyn Cushen 04th May 2011

After a successful 2010 season at the Basement, Faux Real has returned to the Auckland theatre circuit as part of the 2011 New Zealand International Comedy Festival. This time with a few script tweaks, some sponsorship and plenty more Johnny Farnham.

Faux Real focuses on an uninspired talk-back radio host Dave (Gareth Williams) who, after half a wheel of Camembert, descends into the deep recesses of his subconscious to revel in childhood trauma and all things Farnham. Accompanied by a surprisingly expressive desk lamp, expertly manipulated by puppeteer Milo Cawthorne, the duo set out on a fantastical quest to the centre of Australian pop rock, Ayers Rock, to save the musical genre form the evil Nick Cave and his alternative country leanings.

Like all antiheroes, Dave suffers various crises in his quest for victory, including the death of ol’ lampy, but despite all this action Faux Real fails to sustain momentum. This in part is due to extended periods of physical comedy and an over-reliance on multimedia which, while impressive, serve to detract from the narrative and dislocate Williams from the production.

Despite this, the narrative is peppered with fantastic one-liners, most of which are attributed to Kylie Minogue and Peter Garrett. And William’s musical finale of ‘Pressure Down’ is so fantastic it almost forgives the weak “and then I woke up and realised it was all a dream” resolution. Almost.
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Goofy jaunt through the subconscious

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 08th Jun 2010

Bizarre dream world created by Williams holds the interest but lacks satisfying conclusion

Solo performer Gareth Williams takes us on a delightfully whimsical journey inside his head and gives credence to the psychological theory that dreams can reveal parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected or suppressed.

In the cold light of day, few would own up to being Johnny Farnham’s biggest fan but in Gareth Williams’ dream world the Australian pop idol looms like an omnipotent god seducing a star-struck admirer with the opportunity to walk in his shoes.

In a similar vein, an innocuous desk lamp becomes a fetish object triggering an extended piece of silliness in which the elasticity of the spring-loaded lamp conjures up a sexually suggestive equine fantasy. [More]


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More Guilty Pleasure than Celebrity Dork Mockery?

Review by Nik Smythe 03rd Jun 2010

“What,” enquires the promo flyer, “if you were trapped in your own head …with John Farnham?” To be honest, that’s a question I would normally be inclined to avoid answering. 

Fortunately this reviewing task offers the opportunity to occasionally step outside one’s comfort zones and experience something unique and unexpected. Well, perhaps not entirely unexpected, if you’re familiar with the previous shenanigans of director Dan Musgrove (Blinkers and Spurs, The Giant Face) and creator/performer Gareth Williams (Apollo 13’s Walter Cronkite, and the albino one from them Lonesome Buckwhips), but still undeniably unique.

Three large white screens cover the sides and rear of the stage, which lends a cinematic feel, exploited at the first with the classic THX digi-sound sting, and in the Hollywood blockbuster-esque closing credits. There’s not much Hollywood in between though, except maybe a couple of ingeniously devised cheesy montage sequences. Musgrove keeps a tight rein on the ensuing bizarre events so that it’s never (quite) overindulgent in its obscurity. 

Ostensibly the presence of John Farnham is employed to profitable comic effect, though the joy with which the main musical showpiece is delivered makes me wonder if Guilty Pleasure is slightly more the inspirational force behind this increasingly strange piece of work than Celebrity Dork Mockery. 

‘Dave’ (Williams) is woken by his radio alarm and rises to face the day. As he is forced to contend with a petulant animated lamp, the comedic weirdness of it has me thinking Pixar hires David Lynch. Then the booming aural spectre of self proclaimed God of 80s Australian pop-rock arrives to enlist Dave as his natural successor, the one who will finally break him into the American market.

After some cursory ‘being John Farnham’ training, Dave earns his stripes in the form of a blow-wave blonde hairpiece and proceeds to bring the house down with a spectacular execution of ‘Pressure Down’, complete with dry ice and full band in silhouette. The story continues: Dave gets a girlfriend, his lamp grows jealous, tensions rise, something’s gotta give…

Williams makes optimum use of his gangly frame and expressively versatile mug to create a performance both mirthful and moving. 

The requisite singles from the ‘Voice’ and a couple of other sneaky soundtrack pieces suggest the APRA fees must be costing a bit. Besides these, Byron Coll and Dave Ward have composed some appropriately surreal music, in turn mixed up with the audio-visual antics of Rob Larsen. The result is a deftly pitched, eerily dream-like environment for the perplexing adventures of Dave.

It seems inevitable a show like this will polarise its audiences. I for one am of the target market for this sort deceptively layered multi-media composition, in which laugh-out-loud character driven comedy belies the truly cerebral basis of the piece. Exactly what it is that’s going on can be left to scholars of Farnsy, existentialism and/or contemporary absurdist theatre to debate.

Main quibble: The notoriously shallow Basement roof creates sightline issues for some of the lower-down visuals. Solution: bigger theatre. 


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